My infertility journey led us down many different paths, until we were blessed with our gorgeous twins. It was not an easy time, however I truly believe these paths were destined for me.
Our final destination was India. Where our amazing, selfless surrogate mother, Manu, gave us our twins. There is not a day where I do not think of Manu, and hope she and her family are all well.
I want to share with you a small part from my book, where we say goodbye to our surrogate. For me this part of our journey was the saddest. Yes I was blessed with not one baby, but twins, however nothing can take away the pain I felt that day, and still do today, when we said thank you and goodbye to our surrogate.
After a week of being back at our hotel with our babies, I sent an email to the clinic asking if Manu would like to see the babies before she left the surrogate home, where she stayed with her husband and son. The clinic replied saying Manu would like to see the babies, however, she did not wish to hold either of them, which we understood (as this would be just too hard for her emotionally).
Before leaving Perth, I bought a gorgeous Swarovski gold bracelet with colour stones throughout as a thank you gift for Manu along with extra India Rupee to the value of US$500 in a thank you card. I regret at the time not buying two bracelets, so Daya could have had a matching one for herself, however at the time of purchasing this gift for Manu I was not aware we were even having a girl. I still go into any Swarovski store I come across to check if they have one. I had asked the mum I met in the waiting room back at the clinic in New Delhi (on our first visit to India) what she had bought her surrogate and she said a saree, which was the most common gift. I, however, did not want to do this, as even though I saw so many gorgeous sarees, I was unsure what was classed as fashionable, plus I did not find a saree generous enough. I was happy with my gift for Manu and hoped the extra money helped her and her family, and the bracelet may be something she can look at and help her feel a little closer to and remember the babies she once carried.
The next day, we went to the clinic to meet with Manu and say our goodbyes. Ian and I were waiting in a room for her along with Bane and Daya. The moment Manu walked in I will never forget and I never want to, as it is a constant reminder of what this selfless, amazing woman did for us and how she changed our lives for the better in more ways than I can express. Manu instantly broke down in tears upon seeing the babies in our arms. It was the type of emotion that has you doubled over with heartache. I hugged her and I cried along with her. After a couple of minutes Manu managed to control herself, however I was a blubbering mess the whole time. My mind kept putting myself in her shoes; she had carried these babies for thirty-three weeks and been able to listen to their heartbeats and feel them move inside her body. Even though they were not hers biologically, they were a part of her. I cannot imagine the heartache she must have felt knowing she would most likely never see them again.
Manu could not speak English so one of the clinic staff was with her as an interpreter. We hugged Manu and told her we could never thank her enough. This one moment, saying goodbye to Manu, broke my heart into a million pieces, more so than any negative pregnancy test result. Still as I write these words, I have tears rolling down my face. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Manu and how grateful I am for the huge part she played in making our dream of being a family come true. I would do anything to be able to see her again and give her a big hug. I hope she has moved on from the loss she would have felt, and instead focused on the opportunities the money has been able to provide her and her family.
I have been struggling of late with a lot of emotions. I thought this was due to the fact I have recently had opportunities to share my story, hence reliving it over again and over again, which don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to do, if my story is going to give hope to others going through a similar journey. Or is this sadness due to feelings that have finally come to the surface and how during our eight-year journey to have a family, I never gave myself the time to grieve any loss we may have felt along the way. For example, if we had a negative pregnancy test following IVF cycles, sure I cried, but we also just picked ourselves up and tried again. When eventually I knew I had to go down the path of choosing an egg donor and surrogate, therefor not being the biological mother of my baby and not being able to carry them, I never let myself grieve the loss that I would not get to experience the joy of pregnancy like most mothers. I just got on with it! When I was not in the same country to be at any ultrasounds and hear our baby’s heartbeats I just told myself how lucky we were to get this far. Then when we finally held our babies I felt I did not have any right to feel sadness and to be honest at the time, after eight years, I felt nothing but joy.
So there I was, feeling that I was struggling with a form of grief, and that grief was to do with our long journey dealing with infertility and it had all finally hit me, however I have since come to the realization it is not as much my infertility that I am grieving, but more the sadness I have been feeling worrying about our beautiful surrogate, Manu. The most amazing lady who has given us the world! And really when I retell our story, it is when I get to the part of saying goodbye to her, that really has me in tears.
I have been watching the numbers of COVID-19 cases increase in India, well in many countries around the world, but a piece of my heart belongs in India and I am concerned for the people there. The number of lives lost on a daily basis is heartbreaking and many of these are due to those not being able to afford medical care, and the hospitals already being overcrowded. So many in the country live in makeshift shelters on the side of the road, struggle to buy food for their family, let alone have the money to pay for medical and hospital care should they need it. In an environment like that, it is no wonder the virus is spreading rapidly.
My life has gone on during this global pandemic without too much upheaval and this makes me feel guilty. Grateful, but guilty. Every day when I think of Manu, and her family, I hope they are all well and safe. The bit of relief I have is hoping the money she received from the clinic for being our surrogate has helped her provide a more comfortable home for her family, where they can be safe away from the crowds. The sad thing is I will most likely never know. Manu may no longer have contact with our surrogacy clinic and may have only been a surrogate the one time.
For a while there I was thinking the way to move forward from feeling this very emotional sadness was to start seeing a counselor, which would mean spending money on therapy sessions, but something was telling me that was not what I was needing. I have realized that for myself to heal I need to step up and commit to doing my part. To help the people of the country where my children were born and a country we talk about often. I have now connected with Oxfam India. They do amazing work helping the many affected by the Coronavirus, in all parts of India, by providing medical care and supplies, food and clean water. They also work in the communities to help put a stop to discrimination & violence against ALL women and children.
This is what I need to do. I need to do my part to help raise funds for a country that allowed us to have the most precious gift of all.
So here I go, not saving the world, but doing what I can. As said by Janna Stanfield,
“I cannot do all the good the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do.”